Whether you’re trying to be a good trail citizen or you’re simply a die-hard roadie, spring is the perfect time to saddle up on a bike with skinny tires in Park City. As the grass starts to green and the temperatures warm, road biking is a great alternative to mountain biking during mud season. Even if you don’t feel as fast you did at the end of last season, we’ve laid out three road rides guaranteed to get you in biking shape.
Well known to locals, the ride up Royal Street near Deer Valley Resort is a great way to build your climbing legs during the early part of bike season. I like to start with a warm-up along SR 224 from Kimball Junction to the base of Royal Street. The ascent itself is only about three miles, but it boasts an impressive 1000-foot elevation gain, so you certainly don’t want to start out with cold legs. And while this road bike ride can be a real butt-kicker at the beginning of the season, the climb itself only takes about 20-25 minutes.
Be sure to layer up on this ride (and the ones below) since there may still be spots of snow on the north-facing sides of the street. While this will provide welcome air conditioning on the way up, it can be downright chilly when you’re hauling down the descent. Full fingered gloves and leg warmers can come in handy while a windproof jacket or arm warmers are an absolute necessity.
Wolf Creek Pass
This legendary climb just outside of Woodland, Utah should not be attempted without at least a few in-town road rides under your belt. Royal Street is a great way to train for Wolf Creek, as is the ride from Park City to Kamas out SR 248 or even Brown’s Canyon. The awesome thing about riding Wolf Creek in the spring is that you often have the road to yourself, since it’s typically free of the campers and RVs that typically whizz by during the summer months.
While hardcore cyclists have been known to ride to the base of Wolf Creek all the way from Park City, the rest of us mere mortals are happy to park at the South Summit Aquatic Center in Kamas. Keep in mind that once you hit the base of Wolf Creek, there are no services whatsoever, so come prepared with extra water and bars, gel, or gu.
While Wolf Creek is a long ride (50+miles), the sweeping climb and gorgeous views make it manageable despite an elevation gain of over 3000 vertical feet. Be forewarned, though, the last few miles include switchbacks with a gnarly grade of about 12%, so you’ll feel like you’re barely moving. The descent, however, becomes a just reward. Allow two to four hours for this epic ride depending on your level of bike fitness and any headwind.
Alpine Loop Road
A lesser known, but equally beautiful, road bike ride is the Alpine Loop Road located just outside of Provo, Utah. While the fall colors on this climb are nothing short of spectacular, the downside is you have to deal with countless cars and motorcycles. Since the shoulder on the Alpine Loop is pretty non-existent, it’s much safer to enjoy this quiet mountain road in the early spring.
This climb is short and sweet, a mere 6.5 miles from Sundance Resort to the summit, but the elevation gain of 1950 vertical feet makes it noteworthy. Cyclists craving a longer route can descend into American Fork Canyon. Keep in mind, however, that you’ll end doubling your elevation gain when you take this route with an average grade of 6.7% from American Fork back to the summit.
For those of us who have limited time, or prefer to indulge in a post-ride lunch at Sundance, the out and back up the Alpine Loop can be just right. No matter which route you select, the views of Mt. Timpanogos and dense aspen groves will ensure you have a smile on your face—for at least part of the ride.
Whether you choose one of the spring road bike rides mentioned above, or you go with your own personal favorite, it’s important to make sure that your bike is tuned after a winter in your garage. Be sure to bring your bike into the Experts at Jans for a performance tune to make sure everything is in road-ready condition. We’ll hook you up and send you out with the peace of mind that comes from knowing your road bike is ready for the long season ahead.
Liz Yokubison, Senior Editor
*Post updated on May 13, 2020